Hi Sarah, great to meet you! Would you mind introducing yourself to the people who may not know you?
Hi, thanks for getting in touch! I am married to Matt and am the mother of 2 teenage boys. I have lived most of my life with my family in Sutton Coldfield, and recently celebrated my 50th birthday. I work part-time as a Speech and Language Therapist and am currently developing a specialism working with deaf children.
You mentioned that you are part of the Boldmere Bullets cycling and running collective. Can you tell us a little more about this group, who they are and what they do?
The Boldmere Bullets is a cycling and running collective which was founded in the Autumn of 2013 by brothers Tom and Jon Swinbourne. Since then the Bullets have grown to become one of the West Midlands’ largest free sporting communities, bringing together hundreds of people every week to exercise and socialise with each other. We were awarded Sutton Coldfield Sports Club of the Year for 2017, and in 5 years we have collectively raised a staggering £101,000 for local charities from the cycling and running and events we have organised.
You also mentioned that you are involved in supporting women in cycling and giving them the confidence to enter sportives. Can you tell us a bit more about how you achieve this and what you are trying to achieve looking ahead to 2019?
I first joined the Bullets as a novice cyclist in 2014 and found the rides very challenging but was given a lot of support and eventually was able to build up the confidence and skills to lead groups myself. Cycling traditionally has a bit of a reputation for being male dominated, and it would be fair to say that in the early days there were very few women turning up at 7.00 am every Saturday morning to ride with us. This could sometimes feel a little daunting, so I decided to try to do something about it.
In the summer of 2016 myself and Tara Lawrence started to organise informal women-only social rides on Friday evenings, and sure enough lots of women started to join us as ‘Bullettes’ , many of whom have now been totally bitten by the cycling bug! We have also organised some information evenings and mechanical workshop and have more of these planned. After a while most of these women have gone on to feel confident enough to start riding on Saturday morning with the main mixed groups. An increase in the number of women riding has resulted in the whole cycling club environment being more female friendly and less intimidating, which will hopefully encourage even more women to come and ride with us in 2019.
Fantastic – What a great initiative. So we will be seeing the bullettes at Vélo Birmingham & Midlands in 2019?
Over 20 of our Bullettes have entered the 2019 event which is amazing, seeing as many of these ladies were complete beginners until quite recently. Several were non-cycling volunteer helpers on the food stations last time, so it is a great testament to their progress that they are ready to take on a 100 mile Sportive themselves.
Having ridden as a Domestique in Vélo Birmingham 2017, do you have any highlights?
I was very proud to ride the Velo in 2017 as an official Domestique along with a huge team from the Bullets. This involved riding alongside lots of other people offering support and mechanical assistance if needed. I met so many great people that day that it all felt like a bit of a blur, but it was one of my favourite days on a bike ever!
Is there anything you are particularly looking forward to ahead of the 2019 event?
I can’t wait for the 2019 event but must make the difficult choice of trying to achieve a personal best for 100 miles, or once again offering my services as a Domestique, as I enjoyed it so much last time. Hmmmmm….
Finally, do you have any top tips for people who are taking part?
In recognition of your wonderful Women of Velo initiative, we recently organised an evening session for the Bullettes and other ladies, where a professional cycling coach came to give us some training tips. Some of these ladies have said that they had been feeling a little apprehensive about taking part in the Velo because of their lack of knowledge and experience. This session was mostly pitched to meet this need and provided a non-intimidating forum for anyone to ask the most basic of questions and most said that they felt much more confident afterwards. The main gist was to not leave training too late and put in some turbo or cross training over the winter months, moving towards a more structured plan of increasing your mileage in the months leading up to the event but ultimately, get out there on the roads with motivating friends and enjoy riding your bike. On the day, you will hopefully have prepared well and know what nutrition suits you best so just go out there and soak up the fantastic atmosphere and have a great day!
That’s great. Thank you so much for your time Sarah, we hope the rest of your training goes well and we look forward to seeing you in 2019!